While a stroke is not always fatal, it can often result in long-lasting, debilitating effects. Get the information you need to know about strokes: symptoms, prevention and what to do if you think you’re having a stroke.
What is a stroke?
A stroke or “brain attack” occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery (a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body) or a blood vessel (a tube through which the blood moves through the body) breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. When either of these things happen, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs.
When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain are lost. These abilities include speech, movement and memory. How a stroke patient is affected depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged.
Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg — especially on one side of the bodyCommon stroke symptoms seen in both men and women:
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Women’s Symptoms of a Stroke:
Women may report unique stroke symptoms:
- sudden face and limb pain
- sudden hiccups
- sudden nausea
- sudden general weakness
- sudden chest pain
- sudden shortness of breath
- sudden palpitations
Call 9-1-1 immediately if you have any of these symptoms
Every minute counts for stroke patients and acting F.A.S.T. can lead patients to the stroke treatments they desperately need. The most effective stroke treatments are only available if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within the first three hours of the first symptoms. Actually, many Americans are not aware that stroke patients may not be eligible for stroke treatments if they arrive at the hospital after the three-hour window.
If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do this
F—FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A—ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S—SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
T—TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
NOTE THE TIME WHEN ANY SYMPTOMS FIRST APPEAR. If given within three hours of the first symptom, there is an FDA-approved clot-buster medication that may reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke.
Learn as many stroke symptoms as possible so you can recognize stroke as FAST as possible.
“Understanding the warning signs is important because there are treatments we can give for stroke. If you understand the warning signs and get to the hospital quickly we can even possibly reverse the stroke itself,” says Dr. Dawn Kleindorfer, assistant professor of neurology at University of Cincinnati School of Medicine.
*Information taken from Stroke.org.
Controllable Risk Factors:
- High Blood Pressure
- Atrial Fibrillation
- High Cholesterol
- Circulation Problems
- Tobacco Use and Smoking
- Alcohol Use
- Physical Inactivity
Uncontrollable Risk Factors:
- Family History
- Previous Stroke or TIA
- Fibromuscular Dysplasia
- Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO or Hole in the Heart)